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<nettime> How the Calibri font is threatening to bring down Pakista
nettime's font foundry on Fri, 14 Jul 2017 09:05:24 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> How the Calibri font is threatening to bring down Pakista

How the Calibri font is threatening to bring down Pakistan’s government

Omer Benjakob Jul 13, 2017 7:55 PM

Wikipedia’s editors voted Tuesday to take the drastic step of locking
the online encyclopedia’s article about the Calibri font. The reason: It
is at the heart of a massive scandal that began in Panama and could end
up toppling the Pakistani government.

The so-called “Calibri controversy” (or #FontGate as it is being dubbed
online) began after the Panama Papers leak in 2016, when a trove of
documents belonging to the Mossack Fonseca law firm revealed a complex
web of offshore holdings by the world’s political and financial elite.

Among those caught in the net was a firm linked to Pakistani Prime
Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz, prompting the country’s
top court to form an investigative committee.

On Monday, Pakistan’s Joint Investigation Team (JTI) published its
report into Maryam Nawaz’s holdings and made a startling revelation:
Nawaz did disclose her ties to the firm, called Nielsen and Nescoll Ltd.

There was only one problem. According to local reports, the probe found
that Nawaz’s 2006 declaration regarding the firm was typed in Calibri –
a font that was only made publicly available in 2007, raising suspicions
that the documents were forged.

As a result, local media and political wonks rushed to Wikipedia to
discover the truth behind the claim – and some, possibly overly eager to
defend their prime minister, even attempted to change the article’s
content to claim that Calibri was available as early as 2004.

The font, at least according to Wikipedia, was indeed developed in 2004,
but only went public with the launch of Microsoft Vista and Microsoft
Office 2007, where the sans-serif typeface was to become the word
processing giant’s default font.

Since Monday, when the report was released, over 60,000 people visited
the relatively low-traffic article every day.

While Wikipedia is famous for its reluctance to impose restrictions on
the collective editing process that makes it unique, locking articles to
anonymous edits is a possibility. However, this is usually reserved for
extremely controversial topics like Donald Trump, the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the prophet Mohammed.

After the publication of the JIT report, Wikipedia administrators and
editors began the process of nominating and then voting in favor of
temporarily locking the article.

Saqib Quyyam, a prominent Wikipedia editor in Pakistan who first pushed
the ban, told Haaretz that following the report's release there were
numerous attempts to edit the page. "I was trying to remove the
unverified information being added by anonymous people inside and
outside of Pakistan. I nominated the page to be locked down due to the
dispute," he explained.

“Please do not let people edit this font [page] as people are trying to
save a corrupt political party on corruption charges by changing this
entry,” one user wrote in defending the lock.

“It’s rare that a Wiki article gets directly embroiled in an
international-level political scandal,” wrote another user who supported
the lock. “The speed and efficiency with which this article was
protected and its integrity preserved by the Admins is an example and
proof that the Wiki model works,” they added.

Indeed, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has recently announced plans to
expand the Wikipedia model to news production, with the new WikiTribune
project expected to launch later this year.

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